Scorers: Carpenter(2), Kenga(2), Stevenson
Frantic would be the first adjective that springs to mind. In the end, the AP 4’s nearly made a pigs ear of dispatching a very average Stoke esque Norseman side in a game we should really have dominated. To be fair, the captain of Norseman 5’s was in possession of what can only be described as a missile of a long throw, perhaps the longest throw I have ever seen. This was compounded throughout the 90 minutes by the fact it looked like none of us had never defended a throw in before in our entire lives.
In the first sunny game we’ve played in since the summer, the mood was darkened when we went 2 0 down within ten minutes upon a relentless aerial assault. Aided by the referees insistence to use an orange spongy ball that wouldn’t have been missed on a volley ball court for the first twenty, there were lots of shrugging shoulders and a strange placid atmosphere as each goal went in. The first, a long throw scrappy flick on. The second also scored from another long throw, a glancing backward header in the Charlie Austin mould, expertly placed in the top corner by myself for my first of the season. After 3 hours sleep, an own goal and ten minutes of Stuart Johnson whispering sweet nothings into my ear with my skin feelings the beginnings of a sun burn I was starting to wish I had stayed in bed.
But we kicked on after that. James Earle began to get us a foot in the game winning the 50 / 50s in front of the back 4 and playing it out to the fullbacks who had a lot of space to run into given the other side seemed to have set out with about 4 centre mids and absolutely no width. In one of my routine bursts / explosions /mazy runs forward past the opposition full back, a blind cut back fired across the goal was smashed home into the top corner expertly from range by Tom Carpenter for his 7th of the season. There was a distasteful moment shortly afterwards when their striker was through on goal after exploiting a tactical offside trap from Pat and Stu who were playing a questionably high line and decided to dive and try and get me sent off but the referee saw sense and decided not to make a decision either way.
Buoyed by the goal, the second goal soon followed, with Max Gregory receiving the ball short from big Dalz in goal and linking up well with the midfield, with Ellion Kenga reacting well to bundle in a parried shot from Liam. Sensing a capitulation in the opposition we pressed on. Ellion doesn’t look that fast, but does possess a suprising bit of acceleration from a stand still start as the fullback found out find out when he brought him down in the area after Ellion had cut in from the left to win us a well deserved penalty. Tom Carpenter, probably still a bit confused by his recent goal scoring form decided he would take the penalty. I’d say he put it in the back of the net with confidence, but I’m fairly sure it stopped rolling in just after the line and I’m not sure the net was involved at any point.
3:2 up after a nightmare start things were starting to look up, we then proceeded to let in another dire goal from a corner to level it up at half time. After the inevitable “were all over them” team talk, we proceeded to actually play some football in the second half. Nye Jones showing some nifty footwork in and around the middle of the pitch going around players for fun, but again much to his teammates dismay, failing to find the back of the net with a long ranged well struck effort that the keeper clawed away from the top corner. Yet another blank for Nye, starting out another game yet with a lot of early promise but ultimately failing to score when it matters. It appears Nye’s season and Otis Long’s Friday and Saturday nights have a lot in common.
For twenty minutes we passed the ball around and it became a matter of when and how many, Connor going wide with a long range shot, and Liam Stevenson, Ellion and Ben Carter all testing the keeper. The entire side were knocking the ball around intelligently (including Ellion), the defence weren’t giving anything away and things were looking very good indeed. The fourth goal eventually came, Liam receiving the ball into his chest, swivelling on the edge of the 18 and tucking away a classy centre forwards goal into the far corner. A few minutes later, a floated / deflected / shot come cross by Ellion from just inside the opposition half looped over the keepers head and AP were 5 3 to the good. Another goal for Ellion, game over.
From nothing, a punted through ball had the opposition striker through on goal, with Dalziel slow to start after what I assumed to be cloud watching during a quiet spell in goal the game, young Dalz came out and clattered the centre forward with a whole hearted English challenge which probably should have warranted a red card, but the sun was out and the referee decided to let him off. Norseman probably got what they deserved from the incident, the free kick wrong footing the keeper and flying in to the left of the wall to make it 5:4.
Panic stations, the opposition sensed a comeback as we reverted to a flat 6 at the back. The sight of Patrick McGlogan operating in a sitting role at left mid is something I won’t forget any time soon as we hacked the ball away and rushed our final balls. The opposition were as blunt as a wooden spoon and only looked dangerous from throws. But throw ins they got, and they came thick and fast. A few comedy ricochets in the box, a couple of sweaty moments for Dalziel and the points were in the bag – a draw would have been a ridiculous result. Cruising along for a champions league finish, there are 3 or 4 games we can look back on at the start of the season where if we had picked up points we might have been in contention for the league.
by MICHAEL FOX